Anatomy of an Autistic (V/V)

Anatomy Of An Autistic

So it looks as if I have two options. Pass and learn, perfect, the art of being a person I’m not. Or don’t, and let everyone else define me as some entwined version of monster and victim, pity and revulsion and terror.

But there’s actually a third option.

I can humanize myself. I can define myself. I can speak for myself, as myself.

I can find out who that self is.

I can learn what it is to be an autistic adult.

To be honest? I don’t have the faintest idea how to do that, and I don’t think you do either. It’s not as simple as flapping in public or typing on my laptop when speech is too much. All I know how to do is pass, and to interrupt that passing with moments of confusion, furious honesty, rawness and vulnerability. The emphasis in education and intervention is to make the child look nonautistic, not to prepare them for a future as an autistic adult. And there a million more posts in here, and I will go back to writing them eventually, but the point is that a whole generation of us have graduated, we can pass now, and we don’t know who we are or what to do.

The anatomy of an autistic is a lot of sketched out, smudged charcoal lines and open uncontained spaces. It’s a free space to develop. It’s something that will fill in as disability is humanized, normalized, as autism is accepted, as I am allowed to be who and what I am and to drop the poor facade that got me so far without risking losing it all.

The anatomy of an autistic is perhaps a scary thing. So few people have filled it in before, and even those fleshed-out illustrations have been crossed out by the dehumanizing, pitying, horrifying interpretations superimposed by others. But there’s a whole generation of us coming.

And I? I at least am going to work it out.

Hi, my name is Julia, and I’m autistic. It’s probably the best thing about me. Check your assumptions at the door.

We write to fill a silence here.

Julia Bascom blogs at Just Stimming.

Anatomy Of An Autistic appears here, in five parts, by permission.

[image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

on 12/30/11 in Autism, featured | 4 Comments | Read More

Comments (4)


  1. Chantelle says:

    Reading your posts offers such a rare insight.

    As the mother of a beautiful 3 year old girl with Autism, it concerns me to hear “a whole generation of us have graduated, we can pass now, and we don’t know who we are or what to do.”

    We are just about ready to embark on a 2 year IBI (Intensive ABA) program for 25-30 hours a week in the coming months. Without debating ABA here, as it is our best treatment option in this area, I just wonder where my focus should be when determining goals for my daughter, particularly where behavioral habits, stimming, etc is concerned. The term “Socially Acceptable” is certainly thrown around a lot with some therapists.

    I can see how some of these autistic traits get in the way of her learning at this point, with her fierce interests, and so on. However, I never want to discourage my daughter from being anyone other than who she really is. It is a tough place to be as a parent, trying to figure it all out, completely unguided and uneducated, before doing something to damage my daughter’s sense of self and worth.

  2. invisible says:

    I don’t look at it as “passing”. I see it as learning to speak the native tongue of the place I live. I live in a world of neurotypicals, and they all speak that language. They have no motivation to learn my language. I need to communicate, so I learn how to say things in neurotypical. I learn that picking at myself means “crazy person” in neurotypical. I don’t care if they know I’m different, I just want to be able to carry on a dialogue where we both know what the other means. At work, I tend to get caught up in details, and I have to fight to keep on the priority tasks, when the ones I like are going undone. This isn’t passing, it’s just doing what I’m paid to do. With friends, I try to teach them a little of my language, and always keep in mind that I peak neurotypical with a very strong “foreign” accent. Sometimes I really have to work at being understood, but it’s worth it.

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